The Brothers Grinch!
You’ve got to love the catchy, clever title to start. Then, you’ve got to be curious what this play might be about. I was expecting a meld between a Grimm fairytale and the classic story of the most evil, greenest saboteur of Christmas. I figured there’d be loads of dancing, considering a dance company was presenting the play, but I questioned how Cy and Cheetah Platt, the writers/directors/producers/actors of The Brothers Grinch!, were going to combine these elements into a single, solid piece.
Their answer is a hilarious, engaging and mirthful ode to children, Christmas and the art of dance. The play begins with a number that includes the whole ensemble of children and adult actors; it’s a technical hip-hop piece that ends with Santa Claus (the young and talented Stefan Ballard-Reisch) coming on stage in baggy, red sweats to execute a few break-dance moves before inviting kids onto his lap. Santa’s flippant, gangster mannerisms are disconcerting at first. However, when Santa is kidnapped by the Grinch (Cy Platt), his dismissive attitude juxtaposes nicely against the enthusiastic insanity of his captor and his captor’s brother, Max the dog (Cheetah Platt).
The evening I attended, there were some technical difficulties. The stage lights first went out when the Grinch burst in and sat on Santa’s lap. The ad-libbing that took place in total darkness between Platt’s Grinch and Ballard-Reisch’s Santa was so quick and funny, it sounded scripted and was totally worth the blackout. Santa mentioned elf-tossing, among other things, and complained about how elves, sprouted from seeds, can grow 6 feet tall if you don’t pick them soon enough.
“Yes, then you end up with someone like Will Ferrell for an elf,” the Grinch quickly retorted.
The first real interpretive dance came when the Grinch and Max, dressed atrociously debonair in plaid blazers (the Grinch’s costume also included blue lace), were driving back to their meager house with Santa in a sack. There was a dance number with traffic workers, then a solo number by Kristen Garcia, who also helped choreograph the piece.
When the villains arrived at their destination, Max noted it was the most entertaining drive he’d ever experienced: “I saw this traffic light do a pirouette, then a curtsy, then wink at me.”
The story of how the Grinch became green, how Max became a dog and how both came to hate Christmas is too funny and outrageous to mention here, though it does include the song “Frankie the Fireman,” sung to the tune of “Frosty the Snowman,” and a very witty and funny transformation of “O, Holy Night.”
When Santa later asked, “Why couldn’t I be kidnapped by regular people?” the Grinch responded, “Just the luck of the draw, I guess.”
All members of the family undoubtedly will enjoy Creative Performing Arts Center’s The Brothers Grinch! Adults (especially English majors) will appreciate the subtle puns and wordplay. Younger children (referred to in different parts of the play as “Lilliputian cobblers” and “boiled lemurs") will delight in the action and slapstick humor, and teenagers will appreciate the dancing and probably ask to start dance lessons themselves.
The writing and performances are fervent, intelligent and sincere. Let’s hope the Platt brothers keep up the fine work. They definitely have the talent to make a local (or bigger) name for themselves.